Photo and recipe courtesy of Robyn Kalajian

Recipe Corner: Lamb-Stuffed Baked Eggplant (Beyli Baghli), Guest Recipe

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“My immigrant grandparents and American-born parents often served delicious eggplant and lamb dishes at our dinners in 1950s New Jersey,” says Robyn Kalajian. “Some of our family’s traditional recipes featured only eggplant, and in others, lamb was the star.  On occasion, both ingredients ended up in the same pot.  When I spoke with my sister recently, we discussed our first introductions to Beyli Baghli or Imam Bayıldı, stuffed eggplant dishes.  My sister recalled the first time she tasted this concoction was when her Armenian mother-in-law, originally from Bursa, Turkey, prepared it.”

Note: This recipe can be converted to please vegetarians.  First, omit the meat.  Once eggplants have baked, carefully scoop out the pulp and chop it. Sauté your favorite vegetables – peppers, squash, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, etc., and cook them along with the onions and seasonings.  Add chopped eggplant and cook a little longer.  Spoon mixture into eggplant shells, and follow the rest of the recipe.

Serves 4.

Lamb-Stuffed Baked Eggplant (Beyli Baghli)

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants (4 smaller eggplants can be substituted), cut in half lengthwise, stem trimmed

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Olive oil

Meat filling ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

2 teaspoons paprika

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 large sweet onion, chopped finely

1 lb. ground lamb or beef

1/3 to1/2 cup pine nuts

1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce:

1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice

1 tablespoon red pepper paste (or tomato paste)

1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped Italian parsley, optional, as garnish

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Generously sprinkle cut surface of eggplants with salt; allow to rest for 30 minutes to help draw out any bitter juices. Rinse eggplants and pat dry.

Place eggplant halves, skin-side down in a baking pan so they fit snuggly. Brush cut-sides of eggplant with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until soft and golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Prepare the meat filling while eggplant is baking: In a small bowl, stir together the allspice, paprika and coriander.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onions and half of the spice mix.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often.

Add the ground lamb (or beef), and cook until meat is crumbled and no longer pink; drain any excess grease.  Add pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.

For the sauce, place the remaining spice blend in a mixing bowl with the diced tomatoes and their juices, red pepper paste (or tomato paste), lemon juice (if using), sugar, and salt to taste.  Mix well.

Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.  Pour sauce mixture into the baking pan to surround the eggplants.  Spoon lamb mixture to cover the top of each eggplant. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 1 hour.  Carefully lift foil and baste eggplants halfway through baking.

Garnish with chopped parsley.  Serve warm or at room temperature with bulgur or rice pilaf, plain yogurt, and a crusty bread or Armenian pita bread.

References:

https://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/2016/12/lamb-stuffed-baked-eggplant.html